Princeton University Materials Academy (PUMA)

PUMA 2021

The Theme for PUMA 2021 is: Communicating Materials Science to the Public

Program will be virtual this summer and run via Zoom. 

PUMA 2021 Agenda 

The Princeton University Materials Academy (PUMA) in Summer 2021 was virtual and focused on students’ STEAM and science communication. Projects were based on Materials Science concepts learned from short presentations conducted by Princeton University faculty and research community members. Designed to hone students’ skills and knowledge about how materials and material science are fueling innovation, students will leave an “imprint” on their community as they share media they produce. The PUMA PAWS program will present Public Audio Wonder Shorts (PAWS) as a way to share learning.

Students will spend 1-2 hours each day of the program on Zoom with program instructors. The rest of the day will be spent working independently on research and assignments.

Each summer since 2002, PCCM brings high school students from underrepresented backgrounds to Princeton to attend the Princeton University Materials Academy (PUMA), a three-week materials science and engineering program. Princeton University article highlighting the successful 2020 virtual program: "Trenton students sample STEM fields at Princeton University Materials Academy"

2015 PUMA Poster Session





Last year's curriculum centered around sustainable materials and the importance of materials science in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2015, 193 member nations adopted an agenda for the next 15 years, entitled "Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda included 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and planet. Materials science research and engineering is core to innovating the new technologies that will help transform our world to meet these goals. The development of efficient clean energy technology and infrastructure, the delivery of potable water through nanotechnology, and improving health outcomes through better medical devices and molecules are but a few examples of work that is being undertaken by materials scientists and engineers around the world to ensure an ecologically and economically sustainable future for all. For further information about the SDGs, please visit:

PUMA 2020 Additional Video Resources

The PUMA curriculum consists of inquiry-based, hands-on labs, and project-based learning, supported by lectures and interaction with PCCM faculty and graduate students. The students work with the faculty on current research projects; therefore the curriculum is different every year. 


Assistant professor Sujit Datta with PUMA high school students

Above: Assistant professor (and PCCM SuperSeed investigator) Sujit Datta shows 2019 PUMA high school students samples of novel materials his lab is investigating for uses such as environmental cleanup and drug delivery. (photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

In 2019, 15 students from Trenton, Hamilton and Princeton learned about the history of materials used for information storage, from clay to computers. In addition to participating in coursework, independent projects and lab tours, the PUMA students met with undergraduate and graduate students for conversations about career paths in science and engineering. The program was held from July 8-25, 2019.

2019 PUMA news article / video

In past editions, there have been two divisions of PUMA, one program geared toward local area high school students, and another geared toward middle schoolers. In the PUMA program for middle schoolers, twelve to fifteen students participate in seminars that focus on materials science and energy sustainability. Curriculum for the program was developed from the science and engineering research of PCCM faculty. The week-long program was dedicated to narrowing the academic achievement gap across racial and ethnic groups, and they were supported by the National Science Foundation through Princeton's Center for Complex Materials and the University's Community House service organization.

Archived Press Coverage of the PUMA program
Archived PUMA Lesson Plans, available for PDF download